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Letting Kids Be Kids

Nestled in a forested area in Michigan are throngs of children and Michigan State University students singing and dancing and playing and, for even just a week, relaxing. 

All of the young campers at Camp Kesem—a national organization, each branch hosted by a different higher education institution—have had one or more of their parents’ lives affected by cancer. The camp is organized and run by current MSU students. 

“The entire week is dedicated to getting these kids away from the stresses in their lives,” said Haley Gumenick, an MSU College of Education student who is one of the directors at the camp. “[It’s about] letting them just be kids and not worry about what’s going to happen.” 

For the entire week at the free camp, they go swimming and fishing, climb rock walls and enjoy a carnival. They even adopt new names, such as Macaroni or Gizmo or Shrek. These small things add up to a well-deserved break from the hardships in their lives.

Two of the student counselors—Gumenick and Savannah Fannon, who have adopted the names Comet and Twist while on camp grounds—are able to be at this “magical” camp due to the help of scholarships. Without the assistance provided by annual gifts, it would be hard for them to take a week off of work and spend their time volunteering. Their scholarships give them the flexibility and availability to continue to pay it forward.

“It is reassuring knowing that a Spartan stands behind you and is able to push you forward and help you through the situations that they’ve been through too,” said Fannon. 

For more information about supporting student scholarships in the MSU College of Education, contact the Development office at or call (517) 432-1983.